“Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept” *…

Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept ~ McCrone, Morris and Kiely (1995, p. 1)

As McCrone, Morris and Kiely assert in their seminal work on Scotland – the Brand: The Making of Scottish Heritage (1995), heritage as we know it today is not the same concept of heritage from hundreds of years ago. The depictions of plaids, and other Scottish icons can be traced back to the early 19th century (1822), to Sir Walter Scott’s pageantry of King George IV’s visit to Scotland. Scott was well ahead of his time regarding the marketing of a destination. He put Scotland on the map with his writings and romanticism of the country. I can’t blame him for he is reacting to the historical events that happened in the late 17th and 18th century that stripped the country of its pride and self-identity. I would say those events, to a degree, bent but didn’t break the country. If anything those events helped to make it stronger.  This isn’t the first time I revisit the discussion of ‘manufactured’ tourism.

Let’s revisit Starz Outlander. Don’t get tired; this is a great show to demonstrate concepts, even the ‘built’ world of writers, and the film/tv industry. Saturday night was episode 210: Prestonpans was aired, and of course, I visited the subsequent talks on social media on Saturday, and Sunday. Of course, some of the chatter had to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s wardrobe.

Outlander Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie, Outlander Season 2, episode 210; ©2016

Some of the fans were arguing over what tartan he was wearing. Some thought it was the Wallace tartan; others weren’t sure. Whatever they utilized in the show, I would hazard a guess that there is host of historical inaccuracies. Again, what makes for good television. Any tartan or plaid we have today is a manufacture representation traced back to that demarcation line when Scott created the icons for Scotland.

Bonnie_Prince_Charlie_by_John_Pettie
Bonnie_Prince_Charlie_by_John_Pettie

This is one of my favorite paintings of the Prince by Pettie and is in the Royal Collection. Pettie lived from 1834-1893, in the age of romanticism. The Prince is wearing the Prince Charles Edward Stuart tartan. The Prince is emerging into the light of Holyrood Palace after taking Edinburgh in the early days of the ’45. If this tartan had any historical accuracy, which it may or may not, then the tartan used by the wardrobe on the show has thoroughly got it wrong. But more importantly, these two depictions demonstrate the concept of modern heritage.

I am amused by the show. Heck, I just watch it to hear the accents and see the beautiful scenery, and it does have a great storyline. The acting is well done, but I cringe every time for the bastardization of representations of heritage and historical events. I know, let it go, it’s just entertainment. Usually, I do several days later. I have to remember what Beveridge and Turnbull, 1989 stipulated in their works. That the truth of Scottish cultural is that mystical entity that has been ‘eclipsed’ over time. That we will not truly know the genuine character and can only ‘create’ our own interpretations. McCrone, Morris, and Kiely argue that Scottish heritage and its associated icons are malleable. That they are distorted and susceptible to interpretation.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and James Fraser
Bonnie Prince Charlie and James Fraser, Starz Outlander Season 2, EP 210 Prestonpans ©2016

The romanticism of Scotland is a glamorous depiction of historical events. And I have to say makes for great entertainment. Students you must dig past this glamorous representation, do your homework, find primary sources and research for yourself the truth behind destinations. Understand how history, those that influence the development of tourism and its associated marketing to understand how we can differentiate one destination from another. To benchmark against those that are successful and those that are not. Scotland is successful in its marketing efforts and has Scott to thank for that. Tourism is one of the leading industries that aid that countries economic vitality. Go further, farther in your examination to understand just what heritage is, and how it supports a country and its tourism products.

Should we even get into a discussion about authenticity? Maybe next time.

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